Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli BMM, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Home Affairs, at the 41st College Day of National Junior College on Saturday, 8 May 2010, at 3.30pm, at Victoria Concert Hall
Mr Heng Chye Kiou,
Chairman, NJC School Advisory Committee (SAC)
Mr Lim Chin Hong,
President, NJC Alumni
Mr Tajinder Singh,
President, Parents-in-ACTion Support Group (PAACT)
Mrs Virginia Cheng,
Staff and students of NJC
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good afternoon, it gives me great pleasure to be able to join you this afternoon to commemorate NJC’s 41st College Day.
Let me first congratulate everyone for the good work put in to sustain the mission of NJC. I am proud to see that my alma mater has continued to produce many leaders in diverse fields, contributing to the progress and stability of Singapore.
Changing the Education Landscape to Meet Student Needs
The education landscape has been evolving over the years. Now education is not just about imparting content knowledge to the next generation. The cultivation of a healthy mind with sound morals and passion for life, together with the development of skills that prepare our students to take on the challenges of the future, is key to a successful education system.
To do this successfully in our fast-changing and highly connected world, it is important to constantly review, reposition and reorient our schools to stay relevant to the needs of our students and the demands of the future.
In recent years, much focus has been given to reforming our educational landscape to inject greater diversity and flexibility to give our students more choices. In resource-scarce Singapore, where people are our greatest asset, it is important that we do not leave any student behind. Creating such diversity will allow students to progress according to their individual abilities.
I am pleased to note that NJC has remained at the forefront in pioneering educational reforms to meet students’ needs. For example, the 6-year integrated programme that started in 2009 provided the platform for sustained character development of students with their personal mentors from Sec 1 to JC2. Nurturing community awareness, cultivating rootedness, developing leadership, forging self-identity and building of capacity in non-examinable components are some of the key thrusts that guide NJC in the development of the 6-year Integrated Programme. In addition, the College puts emphasis on customising learning for individual students through acceleration for talented students, extension for students who want more exposure and consolidation for students who need assistance.
21st Century Competencies
As part of our efforts to keep up with the changing education landscape, MOE recently announced the implementation of a new framework to enhance the development of 21st century competencies in our students. These competencies, which include creativity, innovation, cross-cultural understanding and resilience, help equip our students to capitalise on future challenges and turn them into opportunities in a fast-changing, increasingly globalised world. Values form the core of the framework. They define a person’s character. They shape the beliefs, attitudes and actions of a person. They are central to our approach in nurturing 21st century competencies in our young.
Besides the five SEL skills, civic literacy, global awareness and cross-cultural skills, critical and inventive thinking as well as information and communication skills are necessary competencies to help our young tap into the vast opportunities in the new digital age. With these skills, we would like to see our students emerging as confident people, self-directed learners, active contributors and concerned citizens.
NJC actively seeks opportunities to enrich students through organising international competitions like the Singapore International Science Challenge and international exchanges with renowned schools such as Korea Science Academy, Moscow Chemical Lyceum and Waseda Honjo Senior High School, to name a few. I hear that NJC is active in the use of video conferencing with overseas partners to engage their students globally.
Looking ahead, NJC must continue to innovate and broaden its strategies and programmes to prepare its students to thrive in the global environment. I therefore urge all of you to continue this meaningful endeavour to nurture our students and mould them into ‘scholars and leaders who serve with honour’.
Enhancing National Education Through Strengthening School-Community Linkages
While grooming future scholars and leaders that have the capability to make significant contributions on a global scale, we must not forget that service starts at home. To serve with honour requires NJC students to be part of not only the college community, but the wider community surrounding it. Through encounters and interactions with people from all walks of life and backgrounds, young and old, students learn about life, and themselves as Singaporeans.
Similarly, serving the wider community requires knowledge of the sight, sound and smell of the different historical and cultural landmarks surrounding the College. I am pleased to note that as a school with a strong tradition in National Education, NJC has introduced NE-related programmes that engaged and empowered its students in exploring their position within the larger Bukit Timah community.
For example, I understand that since 2005, NJC initiated a historical and cultural mapping of Bukit Timah. It was a project in which students get to explore and research into various landmarks, locations and facets of the neighbourhood around the College.
Inherent in these programmes is the belief that the community-related projects undertaken by the students provide an important learning experience, which will link the theoretical with the experiential—injecting life and meaning to the learning so that it becomes real and concrete.
This project culminated in a series of students-developed Learning Trails, which I was informed will eventually be made available to all national schools by 2011.
Moving forward, we must continue to hold dear this focus on the community, as well as other core NE values such as racial harmony and meritocracy. We must consciously keep and expand our common space to include Singaporeans of all races and religions, even as we embrace new principles and ideas to meet changing demands of the future. We must never take our survival for granted as each has a role to contribute to Singapore’s future success.
Today’s ceremony is a recognition of the achievement and hard work put in by staff, students, parents and partners of the College. It is a celebration of the continued good effort and success of the College for the past 41 years, made possible by you, the stakeholders.
On this note, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations and best wishes to all members of staff, students and stakeholders on NJC’s 41st College Day.